Tangible or Intangible

On his interview with Alex Bennet, Karl-Eric Sveiby, Professor of Knowledge Management at Hanken Business School in Helsinki, and principal of the Sveiby Knowledge Associates organization of consultants, gave some in interesting insights into his view of KM. The purpose of this paper is to study the major points that were discussed during this interview and their relevance to how KM can be improved.Knowledge Management has variously been described as a) the ability to collect, sort and store knowledge and thus make it accessible to other members of the business and b) a concept performs the same tasks as a with an organizations human skills, documents and other skills.Svieby emphasized that his understanding of knowledge management differed from other views, in that he saw is as a way of gaining business success by taking advantage of the collective people’s skills and knowledge available to the organization, both of employees and customers. He calls these the intangible assets.

This differs from the other held view of KM, which is more attuned to the collection and storage of information and knowledge. Svieby (2004) calls this “information management” and reveals that its usage has not been without its pitfalls, as has been seen in the IT sector of industry, for which he cited the Dot.com IT slump in 2002. The more people-based concept of KM suggests that it is not only the collection of information and knowledge that is important, but also the ways in which those who gain knowledge use it.The other important factor regarding KM was the transfer of knowledge and how to achieve this.

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In this regard computers and their standard programs have little use other than their ability to store and sort information. Svieby promotes the idea of computerized tools being developed to achieve these ends for business purposes. These would have a similar effect to flight and driving simulators, where knowledge gained from other people’s previous experiences, together with information gathered and data on the subject, can be transferred to others who lack the experience and knowledge.

Svieby also mentioned within the interview, the three-point strategy or concept that he has developed. This concept promotes the strategy that there are three type of areas from which knowledge can be sourced and where knowledge capital can be gained. Consumer knowledge, or Consumer capital, gained from customers provide information that will affect and influence the directions taken by the business marketers. Next comes knowledge from the internal structure of the business, which Svieby has named as “Structural Capital” and the final part of the triangle relates to human, or employee capital. With an amalgamation of these three areas, the business should be able to capitalize by introducing a business plan, which will lead to increased business success whilst at the same time addressing the needs and requirements of all of the business stakeholders.

The major criticism that comes through in the interview is the way that others have tended to have utilized the term “Knowledge Management” for purposes that it is not specifically designed for, setting strict parameters for knowledge acquisition, rather than its core function, which is the transfer and subsequent use of knowledge.In conclusion the author’s opinion is that more understanding and research needs to be undertaken into the subject of Knowledge Management to ensure that businesses can address the root functions of the strategies that can be built upon this area of the business. Managed correctly, knowledge can add significant value to the success of a business.